B&H Photo (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/) Kudos!

I just ordered four things from B&H Photo. This is a US company that sells everything imaginable for photography, video, and some home entertainment and computer stuff as well.

I am Canadian. I generally deliberately buy Canadian. So why would I purchase online from a New York, New York, USA company?

  • better prices
  • better availability
  • better service
  • better support

I will go into each of these separately.

Better Prices.

When CAD was 3/4 of USD my last new camera was under $600 USD and $800 CAD. That’s a wash. However, spare batteries were 1/3 the price (Watson versus Panasonic) or 1/2 the price (Panasonic proprietary.) Both work perfectly and the stated small difference in charge capacity is undetectable in my usage.

The UV I wanted was not available in Canada. B&H had one for some $24 which is $60 in Canada. That’s some exchange rate, eh? And, I was able to choose, instead, the better one at maybe $27 which is nano-coated. When my spouse’s smaller UV fogged up in the Bahamas, my larger one did not. Coating repels water.

Better Availability.

Years ago I decided I should have bought the Olympus (film) ZLR in Canada. I did get it from B&H.

I searched for a weatherproof, point&shoot, with image stabilization. I was able to get an Olympus Stylus 780 IS from B&H. Now the batteries seem to be dying; symptom is, on power up, needs clock reset. Cause: battery dead long enough for internal clock backup to discharge.

Try to buy a battery for an Olympus Stylus 780 IS that is eight years old. At B&H I can do so. Even better, I can get a Watson equivalent that is half the price. On top of that, I can replace the clunky, long-cord Olympus charger with a Watson charger for under $20 USD. This charger can do several other batteries, and with a ‘plate change’, can do even more. Insanely, it has a USB port that can be used to charge other devices. More insanely, it comes with a car 12-volt adapter and a European outlet plug adapter.

Try getting that at H’ry’s or Dtwn Camera. (names mangled to avoid slander charges.)

If you want a case for a camera, B&H is likely to suggest one or more that fit exactly.

And, part of my order was a nano-coated, B&W (made in Germany) filter for my wife’s Nikon P7800. No fogging up next trip, eh?

Better Service.

When I decided to purchase the 780 IS, it was ‘available’ in Canada at H’ry’s. However, their website said approximately the following: 1) your order must be prepaid and is not cancellable. 2) we have no idea, and make no promises, as to delivery date. 3) mumble words about not being liable for tying up your money for as long as they choose.

B&H would never put such c..p on their website.

The order I placed yesterday (B&H appears to live in devout Judaism in its approach to holidays; Sunday work is OK but Saturday is Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) … that order was marked shipped on today, the following Monday.

B&H offers to do all the ‘brokerage’ with a known charge up front. I always take that option; otherwise the delivery arrives with COD and generally, a driver who, amazingly, cannot make change.

Better Support.

When I could not find the UV at the size and coating I wanted, I used B&H feedback to get, in reply, a hotlink to their specific page with this item on it. Exactly. I ordered from this page.

When I could not find a selection of underwater cameras, same result. I did not order. I am going to keep using my non-underwater weatherproof cameras, for now.

When I was annoyed with their website cross-scripting, they responded with attempted assurances that the website involved is used ‘a lot.’ While that does not erase my concern (NoScript drives me nuts all the time, but cross-scripting is something I don’t understand well and am loath to permit) it was an attempt to explain their world view to me. Better than the silence I get from most places.

Anything Else?

This is not a fair criticism of B&H as nobody does this next thing well.

I’d like to be able to find underwater cameras that have excellent resolution. It appears that, more or less, they are all roughly equal. And, they are all a trace less sharp than their non-underwater peers using similar lenses and similar sensors. Why? An underwater camera does not ‘power out’ the lens on start-up. This because moving seals here just can’t manage large pressure differences, as when submerged twenty feet or so. Because the lens does not move forward, the light path is instead ‘folded’ by mirrors. At least one reflection turns the path sideways inside the camera; focussing movement is then on that sideways path. This means a small (but consistent across all such cameras) image degradation.

I think that Nikon once made an underwater camera that was ‘front bulged’ a bit and did not fold the optics.

There is no way to find out which cameras fold / don’t fold the optical path.

B&H is not alone in this information deficit. I’ve been on DPReview and they don’t seem to get this question either.

Net Net on this one: I’d consider replacing (with a submersible)  my weatherproof Stylus, but only with a camera of comparable image quality. The Stylus 780 IS has, on the occasion when used in suddenly decent light, produced remarkably sharp and wonderful images. Used in s..tty rain conditions, it only looks OK/good. (higher ISO, tougher stabilization at lower shutter speeds, etc.)

The Dumb Question

Those who visit often will be looking for this, as I often provide at least one.

Why would I buy from B&H Photo?

That’s a dumb question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *